Wednesday, February 14, 2007

But I Like It That Way! (Part 2)

The money you invest in a good writer's conference will come back to you in new friendships and the ripe fruits of your labor. $20 on a good plotting book can fuel a 5-figure book contract. But even more than those valuable things is the "free" advice and training you get when working one-on-one with the editor who is publishing your book. Your editor is a friend on your team who is pulling with you for a win.

When you save that final draft of your manuscript and send it to your editor just before deadline, don't fool yourself into believing the manuscript is done. That time you dedicate to finishing your draft is no more important than the time you'll spend refining an already "completed" manuscript after your initial deadline.

Let's hear more from authors' experiences working with various editors:

To me, editors are more than a fresh pair of eyes looking over a manuscript. They see the novel in an entirely different format than I do and they round it out to completion. I can't think of a writer I know who would willingly put their books on the market without their editor. I wait with anticipation for mine to come back to me and tell me how to make the book better. Sometimes, I'll disagree with her and she'll say something like, "Fine, but you have to make this plausible, so delete this character, etc. In other words, there's a reason she edits what she edits an I'm grateful for every editor who has made me a better writer along the way.

~ Kristin Billerbeck

I began my writing career in the general market with a small publisher who literally published my books as I sent them in. When I attended my first RWA conference, just before my fifth book was released, and overheard other authors talking about their revision letters and line edits, I turned to a friend and said, "I think I'm being cheated."

I was right. The value of a good editor is almost immeasurable. I have been very fortunate in my CBA career to work with some wonderful editors, both in-house and freelance. They never mess with my voice, yet they help me make my books better. As the author, I am often too close to the project to see what is missing. I already know in my head and my heart what a character thinks or why they behave in a certain way. But I haven't always managed to get it on paper. I think it's there when it isn't. My editors see my books with fresh eyes, and then communicate ways to improve the stories.

Two important things (among others) that I have learned through the years are:

1) If an editor points out something that is wrong and I disagree with her solution/suggestion, I need to take a deeper look at my book. Because even if the editor's idea doesn't work for me, there is obviously something wrong with the scene/chapter/story arc or the editor wouldn't be having a problem understanding what I meant to do with it. The true problem may be several chapters earlier. Perhaps I haven't shown the character's true motivation. I keep looking until I find the change that needs to be made.

2) I carefully pick my battles. Some changes that editors make have more to do with personal preferences than with proper grammar or a fault with the author's words. In most such cases, I don't STET suggested changes during line edits. Most of them aren't critical. They don't change my style and voice. They aren't hills to die on. My editors have learned that when I STET a change they made, it is something important to me as the author of the book. They trust me as I trust them.

That, of course, is the working relationship we all want -- one of mutual trust and respect. I've been very blessed to enjoy that kind of relationship with my CBA editors.

~ Robin Lee Hatcher

Blessings on your writing today and hugs to all in the spirit of Valentine's day.


(dog team photo -


Mary Connealy said...

It's great hearing from some experienced authors about their ... uh experiences. Okay, that sentence wouldn't stand in a book, but......moving on.....

Cecelia Dowdy said...

A good editor/author relationship is imperative to the success of the novel. After going through line edits and editorial changes, I've seen my novels improve greatly.

Kristy Dykes said...

I appreciate editors' input. I wish I had one on call to help me with my unpubbed books!
Great article. Thanks.

Lena Nelson Dooley said...

I've found that editors help make my stories better. Sometimes, I don't agree with something the editor suggests, but I've found them to be open to finding a solution that works for both of us. I'm thankful for editors.